Sports

Dwyer picked ACC’s preseason Player of the Year

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Perhaps Jonathan Dwyer’s Heisman poster should be sent to the press for printing.

Or so say 87 members of the media this week, as they tapped the Georgia Tech B-back to be this season’s ACC’s preseason player of the year.

The ACC announced Monday that Dwyer had secured 39 first-place votes, 11 more than the second-place finisher.

“It’s a great honor for him,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “He earned it on the field. There are a lot of great players in the league, but if you had to look, from a stats standpoint, who would you vote instead of Jon?”

For some around the conference — including 28 of the preseason voters — the most obvious other name that comes to mind is C.J. Spiller, the electric, versatile running back at Clemson, who is the ACC’s early Heisman hopeful.

Last week, Clemson officials unveiled a life-sized poster of the 5-foot-11 Spiller, and brought several copies to the ACC Football Kickoff. They’re designed to help promote his Heisman eligibility. But posters or not, Spiller’s numbers last season apparently weren’t enough to woo the voters.

The ACC’s top rusher a year ago, Dwyer racked up 1,395 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to claiming the conference’s player of the year award at season’s end. His showing in Johnson’s inaugural season at Georgia Tech was a big spark in Johnson’s run-based option offense.

The news of Dwyer’s selection appears to come as no surprise to North Carolina defensive end E.J. Wilson. On Sunday, he was unflinching in his response about who he felt was the conference’s best running back — aside from his own tailback, that is.

“Best running back outside of Shaun Draughn is probably going to be Jonathan Dwyer,” Wilson said. “A lot of people say that maybe just because of the offense he’s in that he’d be a great back. That’s not the case. He’s a supreme player, and a great player will flourish in any position.”

Wilson should know. He got an up-close-and-personal look at Dwyer last season. Although Wilson and the Tar Heels largely outplayed the Yellow Jackets in their 28-7 home win, Dwyer was one of the few Georgia Tech players who proved unsolvable.

In one of his team’s worst games of the year, the B-back was able to rush for 157 yards on 22 carries and an 85-yard touchdown.

“Jonathan Dwyer, he will run through you or around you,” Wilson added.

Last season’s preseason player of the year was Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper. After struggling through a quarterback controversy, a coaching change and a 7-6 team finish, he was beaten out by Dwyer when the end-of-year results were published.

Harper was challenged to live up to his expectations, and Johnson is concerned, but not overly worried, about Dwyer living up to his own.

“What that’s going to do is put the target on his back, and he’s going to have to live up to the hype,” Johnson said.

In addition to announcing its preseason player of the year, the ACC also announced Monday afternoon the results of the conference’s predicted order of finish.

The Yellow Jackets received nine first-place votes in the Coastal Division but finished second to Virginia Tech. According to the ballot, Virginia Tech will win the Coastal Division, while Florida State will win the Atlantic.

The ballot predicts the two will meet in this December’s ACC championship game in Tampa, Fla., with the Hokies coming out on top.

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